For Falcon Fans, the best thing about this season is there is a season. Take a moment to rejoice in that statement. That’s about as good as it gets. It’s one thing if you don’t have the talent. It is another when you can’t get out of your own way. Whatever the reason, the Falcons don’t have the mojo. There is only one way to point the blame finger straight at the head coach.
At critical stages, your superstar has to make plays. Matt Ryan put the team in a position to come back; unfortunately, he was part of the problem, not the solution. With the game hanging in the balance, he threw another game-losing interception. The wind escaped through the closed rooftop. The defensive body language and effort said it all as Mike Davis carried multiple defenders down the field with his sheer determination.
Matt Ryan was asked about the interception in the end zone:
“I just had to throw it away and live to fight another down. We didn’t really have anything there and not the time to just kind of lob one up. So that sucks. That’s part of it. It’s not fun, but that’s part of playing sports. When you have the ball in your hand, you’ve got to make decisions. I made the wrong one there, the wrong play, and it cost us. That was a tough one.”
The train horn blares through the loudspeakers when the Falcons score a touchdown is officially off the tracks and steamrolling through the team’s spirit, causing depression. Reality has hit no 0-5 team in modern-day history has made the playoffs so take that off your wish list.
They put in the effort, but they always run out of gas. Perhaps the tank has run empty on the head coach Dan Quinn. The rumor mill is working overtime, saying, “it’s a matter of when not if?” He is on his seventh life.
At this point, the only thing remaining is hope for a decent season. Other teams rally when their best players are out. The Carolina Panthers have won three consecutive games without their all-pro running back Christian McCaffrey, and are ascending. Meanwhile, the Falcons are without their all-pro wide receiver Julio Jones, and they are going backward, losing today 23-16 in choking fashion.
They were inconsistent in the passing game. Reckless on defense, allowing wide-open players to waltz into the endzone and big plays none more demoralizing than the short pass turned 57-yard touchdown by DJ Moore.
Dan Quinn on whether there’s a common theme in allowing explosive plays on defense:
“Yeah. Well, you want to go back and look at it all, and so we’ll do that. But the elimination of the explosive plays, that’s a big part of it. If you get beat on a man-to-man route or those, those are ones that go along with that territory. But we’ll have to go back and look was there an error of technique or error of a concept that wasn’t played correctly. Those are the things I know we’ll go back and look at.”
Teddy Bridgewater was surgical, taking advantage of every opportunity completing 27 of 37 passes for 313 yards with 2 touchdowns and, most Impressive, no interceptions because of his decision making. His favorite running back, Atlanta native Mike Davis had a welcome home party contributing 89 on time yards on 16 carries.
The young Atlanta Falcons secondary has faced several challenges with injuries and or Covid-19 that prohibited them from being on the field to develop chemistry. Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen returned. Still, the Panthers’ receiving core featuring Robby Anderson caught 8 passes for 112 yards, was too much.
The Falcons started the game with urgency scoring on their first drive racing down the field 92 yards in 10 plays with Todd Gurley tearing off the left side for 35 yards before he hit pay dirt. By halftime, the team characteristics were on full display. They didn’t get off the field on third down, had a wide-open drop with bad decisions, and bad execution being down 20-7.
On rainy days there is a bit of sunshine. Gurley carried the ball 14 times for 121 yards. Foyesade Olukun tried to knock their lights out with 14 tackles (12 solo).
Give the Falcons credit. They fought to get back in it, but the team’s identity came back to haunt them a critical mistake at the worst time. It’s hard to see how Dan Quinn keeps his job after starting the season defeated. The Atlanta Falcons schedule takes them on the road to the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday. Stay tuned to see who is on the sideline.